American Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte and three teammates were robbed at gunpoint by thieves who posed as police in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) said on Sunday.
The 12-time Olympic medalist was with Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen, coming back after a night out at France's hospitality house in an upscale district of Rio.
Robbers Posed As Armed Police
"We got pulled over, in the taxi," Lochte recounts the incident in detail to NBC, "and these guys came out with a badge, a police badge; no lights, no nothing, just a police badge and they pulled us over."
The armed robbers proceeded to threaten the American athletes and ordered them to get down on the ground, which Lochte's teammates did. But Lochte refused: "We didn't do anything wrong, so — I'm not getting down on the ground."
At that point, one of the robbers cocked the gun and pointed it at Lochte's forehead. The swimmer put up his hands and was forced to hit the ground with the rest of the team. The robbers took the athletes' credit cards and cash, leaving behind their mobile phones and travel credentials. The incident left the athletes feeling "shaken up," according to Lochte's mother Ileana, who spoke with USA Today Sports.
Lochte had been done with his own events since Thursday, while all Olympic swimming events wrapped up on Saturday evening, which afforded the U.S. swimming team some downtime to celebrate post-competition.
Security Issues At Rio Olympics 2016
Brazil has reportedly secured the Olympic Games and stationed some 85,000 police and military personnel across the city. The number is twice more the number of security personnel deployed during the 2012 London Olympics.
Michael Phelps, a member of the American swimming team and 28-time Olympic medalist, even has a personal team looking out for him in addition to the security measures taken by the USOC and USA Swimming to make sure "we're as protected as we can be."
"I've been to Brazil multiple times," says Phelps, "I've felt very safe every time I've been here."
While Phelps may feel secure, delegates from other countries have not be so lucky. A Portuguese minister was robbed at knifepoint while members of Team Australia were robbed of personal items during an evacuation of the building they were staying in. In another incident, two Australian rowing coaches were mugged in Ipanema.
Crime has been one of the top concerns of Olympic delegates and sports fans at Rio 2016. And it is believed to be one of the reasons behind the seemingly low attendance — translating into empty seats — at major Olympic events.
All four athletes are now cooperating with investigators, the USOC said. The International Olympic Committee, however, received conflicting information early on and mistakenly said the incident was "absolutely not true." The committee later rectified the statement and apologized.
Lochte also posted on his personal Twitter account to assure fans the team is safe.
— Ryan Lochte (@RyanLochte) August 14, 2016